NPR did a story this morning about a new serial killer novel that comes with a packet of items -- driver's license, death certificates, etc. -- along with phone numbers and websites where you can interact with the characters.
It reminded me of one of the first places I spent a lot of time on the web -- The Spot. It was purported to be a kind of reality show on the web, with a bunch of beautiful people living in a house and posting journal entries and photos with all kinds of relationship gossip. I couldn't browse graphical sites from my Charlottesville apartment, but I had access to Netscape on my workplace computer. Several times a day I'd check in, looking for new content in the characters' diaries.
Even though the faux-real touches of projects like this are gimmicky, they have the potential to draw you in. One reason I'm so looking forward to seeing District 9 tonight is that it's framed in that documentary style. I find that approach makes me more alert, scanning for information and feeling like whatever I've caught is something I really possess, not something that was fed to me. It's a structure that involves me, exactly as it's designed to do.